The Tour of Ireland organisers have confirmed the final three teams for the forthcoming Tour of Ireland on August 27-31: Rabobank Continental, TopSport - Vlaanderen and Pinarello - CandiTV.
Rabobank Continental will bring 20 year-old Boy Van Poppel, son of Jean Paul van Poppel and 2006 junior world cyclo-cross champion and Thomas Berkhout, 23, who came close to a stage win last year when he finished second in Dublin. Van Poppel also finished fourth on the final stage into Dublin last year. In addition, Thomas Rabou, will join the team with the advantage of having won stage one of the Rás Mumhan into Killarney in 2006.
TopSport Vlaanderen is sending a talented team from Belgium including Kenny Dehaes, Nikolas Maes and Frederiek Nolf, who are certain to look for stage wins.
Russell Downing will lead the UK's Pinarello - CandiTV team. The former British road race champion will arrive in Dublin Docklands for the start in Grand Canal Square alongside veteran professional Malcolm Elliott who returns to Ireland 20 years after winning two stages of the Nissan Classic (Boyle and Limerick) in 1988. He also finished second that year in the general classification one place behind Rolf Golz and one place ahead of legendary sprinter Sean Kelly. Elliott, a 47 year-old from Sheffield, also won a stage of the Vuelta España that year and finished fourth on the Champs-Élysées in Paris in the final stage of the Tour de France. The rest of the team list is likely to include former Irish international Andrew Roche and promising youngsters Freddie Johansson, Peter Williams and Thomas Murray.
"Obviously it is 20 years since I last raced there and it is going to be extremely tough this time round. I am definitely under no illusions. It will be great if we can capture some of that atmosphere again," said Elliott.